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Abnormal function of the brain system supporting motivated attention in medicated patients with schizophrenia: an fMRI study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 May 2006

PETER F. LIDDLE
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, Canada
KRISTIN R. LAURENS
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, Canada
KENT A. KIEHL
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, Canada
ELTON T. C. NGAN
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC, Canada

Abstract

Background. Patients with schizophrenia have an impaired ability to generate activity that is appropriate to current circumstances and goals.

Method. We report a study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine cerebral activity during a three-tone auditory oddball target detection task in a sample of 28 patients with schizophrenia and 28 healthy controls.

Results. The patients exhibited significantly less activation in response to target stimuli relative to baseline in an extensive set of sites in association neocortex, paralimbic cortex, limbic structures and subcortical nuclei, yet demonstrated a normal level of activation in the sensorimotor cortex. Comparison of activity elicited by rare target stimuli with that elicited by equally rare novel stimuli makes it possible to distinguish cerebral activity associated with attention to behaviourally salient stimuli from activity associated with attending to other attention-capturing stimuli. This comparison revealed that the patients with schizophrenia also exhibited a deficit in activation of basal forebrain areas that mediate motivation during the processing of behaviourally salient stimuli, including the amygdala, ventral striatum, orbital frontal cortex and rostral anterior cingulate cortex.

Conclusion. Patients with schizophrenia have a deficit in function of the brain system concerned with mediating motivation, in addition to a more general deficit in the cerebral response to attention-captivating stimuli.

Type
Original Article
Copyright
© 2006 Cambridge University Press

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